Mar 12, 2015

Black Hills Trail - A Proposal

A multiuse trail could be developed on the railroad right of way owned by the State of South Dakota. The right of way parallels I-90, connecting the Black Hills to the rest of the state.

The trail could be a major tourism focus for the central part of South Dakota. The trail could accommodate horses, hikers, bikers, dirt bike riders, and off the road vehicles. Users of the trail could start anywhere on the trail, and ride / hike to the Black Hills.

Motels, Bed and Breakfasts, restaurants and other businesses could benefit from use of the trail. Hikers and horseback riders would start at the east end of the trail and use local campgrounds, motels, and restaurants as they proceeded west to the Black Hills.

Current and future rail use for the corridor would be preserved. There is ample room within the right of way for multiple uses. Trails have been constructed in numerous areas adjacent to railroad tracks.

The trail could support tourism, economic development, and recreation. It could put the Prairie portion of the State "On the Map".


The Black Hills Trail name is a good one, emphasizing the connection of the rest of South Dakota to its chief tourist attraction. But many other names are possible.

Prairie Trail
Dakota Trail
Lakota Trail
Bad Lands Trail
Gold Strike Trail
Dances with Wolves Trail


Improvements to the trail could very minimal.  The right of way could be designated as a trail with virtually no improvements.  Existing grass areas would be used by hikers and horses and off road vehicles.

Some investment would be best, however. The trail portion of the right of way could be mowed and any obstacles removed.  Signage directing people to the trail could be employed. And the trail could be marketed with other South Dakota attractions.


The idea should be discussed among citizens and governmental and business leaders. If there is sufficient interest, the State should develop a brief study examining the potential of the use of the right of way for the trail. The study would examine the feasibility of the trail, and its likely impacts on recreation, tourism, and the local economy.

Please send your comments or suggestions to: